A while back I wrote a post on the Top 10 African Adventures for any Travel Bucket List. Hippo.co.za asked me to share some of the spots on my own European Bucket List. These are the European destinations that I have yet to visit and that are calling my name, loudly!
I feel these places are beckoning me to book a ticket and pay them a visit… Here’s hoping I’ll get to tick them all off my list over the course of my lifetime (no guarantees when you’ve got school fees to pay! but a girl can dream of course).
I’d love to spend a week or more exploring the side streets and back roads of these iconic European Bucket List destinations. Join me for some wanderlust inspiration below…
My Top 10 European Bucket List Destinations
The beautiful country of Croatia has been at the top of my bucket list forever. I’m so keen to explore this incredible country, especially the picture perfect old town of Dubrovnik with its’ shimmering turquoise waters and peach tiled rooftops. A Guide to Croatia that I’ve recently delved into has got me planning my trip already. A perfect day in Dubrovnik would see me take the cable car up to Mt Srđ to take in the panoramic view for myself, then I’d explore every cobble lane I could, before enjoying an alfresco lunch and a dip in the azure seas. An afternoon of lazing on a white pebble beach with a drink close at hand wouldn’t go amiss either!
2. Lisbon, Portugal
Lately I’ve been lusting after Lisbon which is quite a new spot on my radar. I’ve been reading such good things about this beautifully tiled city that overlooks the Rio Tejo. The city is ringed by seven cinematic hillsides that cradle the postcard-perfect panorama of cobbled alleyways, ancient ruins and white-domed cathedrals. Lisbon’s strategic seaside position means an abundance of fresh seafood is available on every menu in town. I’m also keen to hop on board the tram in Belém to explore the district that is home to some of Lisbon’s biggest attractions such as The Jardim da Praça do Império, Europe’s biggest plaza, the Museu dos Coches and Jerónimos monastery, not to mention Pasteis de Nata from the Pasteis de Belem bakery. After Lisbon there will be many more places to see in Portugal including Sagres on the Algarve!
3. Seville, Spain
Seville may not be the obvious choice when choosing a Spanish city to explore, most people would suggest Barcelona, but I’m intrigued by this city and really want to experience it… From my readings and research, Seville seduces each visitor with its intoxicating scent of orange blossom strewn streets and flamboyant Flamenco nightlife that fills the air with passion. I want to see for myself the gorgeous Gothic cathedrals, Mudéjar palaces, Baroque churches and winding medieval lanes. And then I want to experience eating tapas in a crowded bar celebrating my special Spanish memories with a drink! A weekend in Seville, or better yet, a week, is top of my bucket list when it comes to Spanish destinations! And if I’m feeling energetic enough maybe I’ll add a walk along the Camino de Santiago to Spanish trip too!
4. Provence, south of France
The whole province of Provence is high up on my bucket list because FRANCE. I’m a huge fan of all things French – food, fashion, wine – they really do know how to live life well. I managed to enjoy visits to France before – Paris, Lyon, Lille and a few other pockets of the country in the north – but I never have managed to venture south. If I had a choice I’d head to this part of the French countryside in a flash. The allure of Provence is the gorgeous fields of lavender, the rolling hills of vineyards, the avenues of trees and the home of French perfumery in Grasse, located in the hills to the north of Nice. Synonymous with perfumery since the 16th century, the town is still home to around 30 makers of perfumes. This destination would combine my love of flowers and fragrance… with some pretty perfect scenery thrown in!
5. Prague, Czech Republic
Not many cities can rival Paris for prettiness, but from the photos I’ve seen I think Prague does a pretty good job of it. With a history that goes back a millennium and an abundance of art it’s impossible to not include Prague on my bucket list. I want to get lost in the city’s maze of cobbled lanes and hidden courtyards and spend time aimlessly people-watching on Old Town Square. I’m not sure what other must-see spots there are to be discovered… but that’s the beauty of it. I want to show up with low expectations and leave breathlessly blown away. I think Prague is a city that is likely to do just that and I can’t wait to see more of the best Prague attractions!
6. Istanbul, Turkey
I can’t say I’ve never been to Istanbul, because I have… but it was a very brief bus tour that didn’t even skim the surface of all the incredible sights Istanbul has to offer. It did whet my appetite for more however! I want to stroll through the Grand Bazaar and marvel at the Blue Mosque; I want to experience a genuine Turkish bath and be amazed at the Hagia Sofia. I’m crazy about art and this city is bejewelled with mosaics and frescoes that are worth more than a moment. This city is the magical meeting place of East and West, a place where continents collide, and this strategic location means that there is a rich history to uncover. Greeks, Romans and Venetians have all taken turns to rule the empire before the Ottomans stormed into town and decided to stay until the 20th century.
7. Copenhagen, Denmark
The Danish capital regularly tops world liveability lists and the Danes are often referred to as the happiest people on the planet, so I want to discover what they’ve got going on to make them so! I’m more than a little obsessed with all things Danish at the moment…. mostly thanks to my deep love for their concept of Hygge (more about that in another post!). Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and certainly the epitome of Scandi cool. Think gorgeously simple style, Modernist furniture, cycling commuters and pristine waterways. The city is also a culinary powerhouse with no less than 15 Michelin-starred restaurants to eat your way through! This is the perfect city to take away some personal style tips as you watch the model citizens glide on by on their bikes. Expect effortless, cool, understated fashion. (and be sure to take some tips on what stylish footwear to take on your travels so that you look the part on the streets of Copenhagen while still feeling comfortable after all the walking you’ll be doing!)
I’ve been told that Budapest is a paradise for explorers who enjoy discovering something wonderful at every turn. Architecturally this city is a treasure trove, with an abundance of Baroque, Neoclassical, eclectic and Art Nouveau buildings – living up to the saying, “the past is always just around the corner in Budapest”! I’m quite fascinated by World War 2, so this city would be very interesting to visit from an historical point of view – bullet holes and shrapnel pockmarks are still evident on buildings. Plus the Danube – could there be a more romantic idea than a cruise along this river? I’d take an hour, or a week, if you’re offering and check off all these cool things to do in Budapest including these free things to do in Budapest!
9. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
I’ve only managed to spend one weekend in The Netherlands, in Delft, but I didn’t get as far as Amsterdam, so there’s still a part of me that would like to cycle these streets for myself. I’m sure the general idea is the same as Delft – canals, bicycles etc – but there’s a fascination about Amsterdam that I have yet to fulfil… you see if you go back a few generations on my family tree I come from Dutch stock on my mother’s side. I’m lucky to have a copy of a letter written by my great, great grandfather, who left his home and family in Amsterdam, to make his way down to Cape Town with his bride, to become one of the first Lutheran ministers in the city! It might be a stretch but there’s something to be said for connecting with your past. I’m also keen to explore Anne Frank’s house and the incredible art museums (Van Gogh, Vermeer, Rembrandt et al) and, of course, indulge in an inordinate amount of stroopwaffels! (as well as try some of these typical Dutch foods)
10. The Northern Lights
Listed at No 10 here, but certainly far higher on my personal bucket list, is the Northern Lights (officially known as the Aurora Borealis). I’d be one happy gal if one day this dream came true! The unbelievable dancing colours of green, pink and purple that move across the Arctic sky can only be seen at night between late September and late March when the sky is dark. The best places in the world to view this incredible natural phenomenon are in the north of Scandinavia, Iceland or the Solovetsky Islands in northern Russia. Both seem pretty far away from my little dot on the map at the southernmost tip of Africa, but one day I’m going to get there! And when I do I’ll be sure to pack well as winter in these parts of the world is no joke!! This packing list of what to wear during winter in Iceland should come in handy.
Before you plan your trip to see the Northern Lights be sure to read this amazing guide to viewing and photographing the Northern Lights! Super useful!
So which of these dream destinations are you adding to your European Bucket List?? Or maybe you’ve got one that you feel I should add. Be sure to let me know in the comments below! And don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance before your next dream holiday… you don’t want the dream to become a nightmare!
Visit this link if you’re looking for more European Bucket List Destinations Read this post if you’re keen to see Europe by train with the Eurail or this one if you’re planning a back-packing trip around Europe
For more travel inspiration click here for some awesome travel quotes.
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